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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  February 25, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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we can't do anything since we can't do this one thing. and certainly it's true with the recent passing of supreme court justice antonin scalia. it's clear that we've reached a major point of disagreement. or i guess you could look at it this way -- we actually are agreeing with the position that vice president biden took when he was chairman of the senate judiciary committee. we're now agreeing with the position that was taken by then-senator -- legitimate leader reid, and we are agreeing with the position that was taken in 2007 by senator chuck schumer, a member of the senior leadership in the democratic party. i mentioned these yesterday and i will just go over them real quickly again. surely our democratic friends don't think that the republicans when we're in the majority ought to be constrained by different
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rules that apply to them. that doesn't make any sense at all. how foolish we would be in the majority to say if this is the way the democrats view the rules that we're going to apply a different set of rules to ourselves. and this is what senator reid said in 2005. he said -- "the duties of the senate are set forth in the constitution. nowhere in that document does it say the senate has a duty to give the presidential appointees a vote." that's a fact. senator reid's correct. the president proposes a nominee and the senate either grants or withholds consent under the terms of the constitution itself. but of course that's what senator reid was suggesting back when george w. bush was president of the united states that the senate was under no obligation to even give those nominees a vote. and then more recently, senator schumer, who i know is really --
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is really stirred up about our intention not to process a nomination this year and to have a referendum as a result of this presidential election on who makes that appointment perhaps for the next 30 years. that's how long justice scalia served on the supreme court of the united states. but here is chuck schumer, senator schumer, the senior senator from new york. he said -- "for the rest of the president's term" -- this was 18 months before president george w. bush left office, 18 months, a year and a half before he left office, senator schumer said --" for the rest of this president's term, we should reverse the presumption of confirmation." in other words, he is saying there was a presumption against confirming. he said he would recommend to his colleagues that we should not confirm a supreme court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances. and then of course more recently
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a little research was done into the record of vice president biden when he was chairman of the senate judiciary committee back in 1992. he said the senate judiciary committee should not -- should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over. action on the supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. so it strikes me as rather hypocritical for our democratic friends to say these were the rules when george w. bush was in office or when his father george herbert walker bush was in office in the case of 1992, i believe, but now that president obama is in office, a different set of rules ought to apply. it would be completely hypocritical of them to say that.
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but this is a matter of disagreement, there is no question about it, but it doesn't mean that just because we are divided along party lines on this matter that there are other things we can't do together. i think our friends across the aisle would agree that there is a lot of important work that we can and should do together. the chairman of the energy and natural resources committee, along with the ranking member from washington, worked diligently on energy legislation that we are currently considering. legislation that would update and modernize our country's energy infrastructure for the 21st century. we still need to find a way forward to deal with this legislation. and i know this is an opinion that many members on the energy committee and in this chamber share on a bipartisan basis. shortly, there is another piece of legislation that has strong bipartisan support that was
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voted out of the senate judiciary committee unanimously called the comprehensive addiction and recovery act known as cara. this legislation is a response to the growing opioid abuse epidemic that affects our nation, an epidemic that's claimed the lives of tens of thousands of americans each year , along with the concomitant scourge of cheap heroin coming across our borders from mexico. which when people can't get the prescription drugs, the opioids, then many of them, too many of them revert to cheaper heroin, with disastrous consequences. i know that on a bipartisan basis the junior senators from new hampshire and ohio have particularly led on this on my side of the aisle, but they have worked with the junior senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse and the senior senator from minnesota, senator klobuchar, to make this a top
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priority. so we're going to have a chance to show very soon that we are committed to actually getting important legislation like the comprehensive addiction and recovery act passed by this chamber. this week also the senior senator from vermont, senator leahy, who is the ranking member on the senate judiciary committee, he and i introduced legislation called the justice for all reauthorization act. that bill would provide important resources to victims of domestic violence and it would target resources on the rape kit backlog which is just frankly an embarrassment to our criminal justice system. it's been estimated that there are as many as 400,000 rape kitc evidence taken after a sexual assault -- that would, if tested, reveal the identity of the attacker through d.n.a. testing. there is just no excuse not to
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test those rape kits which are part of that backlog. we know that many of the assailants in these cases are serial abusers, and many times we can stop somebody before they attack again if we can just test those kits. and there is about $120 million each year that congress appropriates for the debbie smith act. debbie smith is the person for whom this legislation is named and quite appropriately so. she has been a champion of eliminating that rape kit backlog, and that's a large part of what the justice for all reauthorization act would help us do. so i would ask our friends across the aisle, while they come out on the floor and give press conferences that express mock horror at the fact that republicans and the majority now
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would apply the same standards that they advocated for when they were in the majority, i would ask them to tone down the rhetoric and avoid the hypocrisy that seems so apparent when they argue for different standards today than they advocated in the past. that is nothing more, nothing less than hypocritical. what is out of line, madam president, is when you have personal attacks against the members of the senate, particularly the chairman of the senate judiciary committee. the minority leader, the democratic leader, made a personal attack against the chairman of the judiciary committee right here on the senate floor just yesterday. what he said was so far from the truth that it's not even worth repeating, but what i would like to make clear is that chairman
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grassley as the chairman of the judiciary committee has made a big -- big impression on this chamber and on the legislation that we passed. i mentioned the cara act that passed out of the judiciary committee unanimously. and senator grassley has a decades-long dedication to serving the people of iowa and in this body. so i don't know how the democratic leader can come out and personally attack a colleague who has done an outstanding job as chairman of the judiciary committee while basically what we are embracing is what he himself argued for in 2005. how does that work? well, i would say the democratic leader doesn't have a lot of firm ground to stand on when it
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comes to judicial nominations. i'd like to remind my colleagues that the democratic leader just a few short years ago took the position that there were no fixed rules when it comes to judicial nominations. and then in 2014, he simply tore up the rule book by invoking the so-called nuclear option, breaking the rules to change the rules on judicial nominations as he attempted successfully, i will say, to pack the district of columbia court of appeals by breaking the rules of the senate in order to pack the district of columbia court of appeals, which many people have said is the second most important court in the nation. so i hope you will take into consideration his prior actions which are far more disruptive and be poison the well of this institution than anything we're talking about doing now, especially when we are agreeing with him.
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at least on this point. but most of all, i would hope that we can conduct our debates in a civil and dignified fashion. people watch, i think, what we do and we say here, and when people come out here and make hypocritical personal attacks, i don't think it reflects very well on the person making that attack, and i think it doesn't reflect well on the senate as a body, and it's certainly not a good example for our young people or other people who might be looking at how we conduct ourselves, if they think well, that's the way we air our differences, then certainly they can be forgiven for thinking well, maybe that's the way i ought to conduct myself, and that's not the message we can -- what we should be conveying. well, we can continue to do a lot of good work here on a bipartisan basis in the senate this year, and it is true we do
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have a major difference of opinion when it comes to filling the vacancy left by the untimely death of justice scalia, but it is true that we are only applying the rules that were advocated for by the chairman of the judiciary committee, now vice president biden, in 1992, minority reid in 2005 and senator schumer in 2007. surely they can't expect us to apply a different set of rules today than they themselves said they would apply if the shoe were on the other foot. but we can still work together on other legislation like the comprehensive addiction and recovery act, like the energy legislation that we're considering now because we do have a lot of work left to do and a lot we can accomplish together. madam president, i yield the floor. and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president purchase the senator from nebraska. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without investigation. a senator: i have requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president, i would like to take a moment to speak today on a bipartisan pipeline safety bill that will
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soon be considered by the full senate. last december the senate comergs committee unanimously passed legislation to strengthen pipeline safety across our nation. i've been working with my colleague, senator booker, yourself, mr. president, and senator peters on this bill for nearly nine months. and we are proud of this bipartisan legislation. over the past several months we've held several hearings, including one in your home state, mr. president, in billings, montana last september. not far from billings in january 2014, the popular pipeline spilled nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil into the state's precious yellowstone river. this incident reinforced the need for a robust update to our laws regarding both the pipeline system and the government agency charged with keeping it safe.
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pipeline infrastructure transports vital energy resources to homes, businesses, schools, and commercial centers across the united states. according to the pipeline in hazardous material safety administration, more than 2.5 million miles of pipelines traverse this country. our bill, the safe pipes act would increase congressional oversight over pipeline safety programs at femsa. it would also provide greater flexibility and resources to state pipeline safety officials. fusht, the bill would require femsa to reprioritize directives and conduct and assessment of the pipeline integrity management program. pipeline safety affects citizens in each and every one of our states. in my home state of nebraska, we
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experience this just a couple of months ago. in january a ruptured natural gas pipeline exploded in the old market area of downtown omaha. the disaster destroyed a historic building and it did injure several people. the safe pipes act would encourage the use of advanced technology for pipeline mapping and help avoid accidents like this moving forward. in california, the massive canyon underground natural gas storage facility leaked -- a leak there posed a serious public health threat and displaced hundreds of families from their homes. the safe pipes act would direct phmsa to create crucial minimum standards for underground natural gas storage facilities. it would also establish a canyon
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working group to ensure similar incidents are avoided in the future. i appreciate the strong support provided by the california senators, senator barbara boxer and senator dianne feinstein who helped to draft this working group and the provisions there. they also serve as cosponsors of our safe pipes act. the senate must pass this robust bipartisan legislation. we all have a responsibility to prioritize not only the efficient permitting and construction of energy infrastructure but also the safety and the security of our nation's extensive pipeline network. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask that the quorum call being vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: madam president, general rosotti passed away monday in his butte home at the age of 82. montanans know him from his efforts to expand his restaurant's flourishing business. he bought his restaurant when sandwiches were sold for a mere 55 cents. according to his oldest son rick orzatti, owning the shop was
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something he wanted to do all his life. to quote rick, he said, "he was truly very proud to be 'porkchop john.' he loved going to work and he loved his job." he was born in 1933, graduate tbrd butte high school in 1951 and married his high school sweetheart when he was only 21 and she was 19. he worked previously for his father-in-law dan piazolla and then went ton open a meat market in 1960 before buying pork chop john's later. the restaurant is located where texaco gas station was located. i remember raws a kid in montana it was the stop whether you were
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on a sports trip, a band trip, a speech and debate trip. you stopped at pork chop john's in butte to grab something to eat. in fact, when my wife and i started our campaign for the united states congress, the very first stop we made after announced the campaign, we went to butte and grabbed a pork chop sandwich. all seven of his children have worked at the restaurant at some point in her lives and the pork chop batter recipe remains a secret to this day and the restaurant has been in the family for 47 years. john was loved by many in his communities. his past employees and friends have nothing but wonder this wog to say about him . others have cared him gentle, honest, never having a bad word to say about anybody. he has been best described as one of the will he jengdzs of butte and truly a butte icon. he was a great man who made a a
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lolasting impact on his family,n his community, and his business. may his legacy of hard work and kind heart be forever honored and remembered. cindy and i offer our deepest condolences to the family. madam president, i notice the absenabsence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. brown: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: and i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. brown: thank you, madam president. the sudden passing and tragic passing of supreme court justice scalia leaves us with a vacancy to fill in our country's highest court. but it shouldn't lead us to a year-long political standoff. article 2, section 2, of the constitution is clear. the president shall nominate supreme court justice with the advice and consent of the senate. it doesn't say may. it doesn't say maybe. it doesn't follow by a clause that says senators don't have to do their jobs in an election year. it doesn't say anything about that. and that's the tradition of our country, that senators, we run for office willingly, enthusiastically, work hard to get here. we take an oath of office. we get paid every week -- every couple of weeks we get a paycheck. yet some are saying we simply shouldn't do our job and move forward on this nomination. complete refusal to consider any nominee from this president is outrageous. it's indefensible, and it is
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unprecedented in spite what some of my colleagues would like to say. don't take my word for it. senator grassley, the republican chairman of the judiciary committee, said as recently as 2008 that -- quote -- "the reality is that the senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president's term." we didn't elect barack obama. the country didn't elect barack obama, whether you voted for him or against him. the country didn't elect him for a three-year term or three-fifths of a term, the country elected him for a four-year term. since the civil war, no supreme court vacancy has been left open for a year. and for the past century the senate's taken action on every single pending supreme court nominee. so, if republicans get their wao people in ohio all the time, republicans and democrats alike. i talked to a republican today who supports senator rubio for president and probably votes for republicans for president every
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election. he said i can't believe what mitch mcconnell did. i can't believe that my party, my, the people i vote for in senate races, in house races would possibly say we're not going to have a hearing on this nominee. we're not even going to meet with this nominee. i mean, a number of senate republicans have said we won't even shake hands. we aren't even willing to meet with the supreme court nominee that a president of the united states under the constitution shall appoint, that the president of the united states submits to the united states senate. now, let's look at what's happened in the past. in 1988, president reagan's final year in office, a democratic majority unanimously confirmed justice anthony kennedy. 1988. again, president reagan submitted his name in a 1988, he was confirmed by a democratic senate. in fact, the senate's been confirming justices in presidential elections since our nation's founding. two of president washington's
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nominees were confirmed during his last years in office. since 1916, every pending supreme court nominee either received a hearing or been confirmed quickly before a hearing even took place. think about that, a pending supreme court nominee has never been denied a hearing in the history of the united states. the only exception is the nominees who were confirmed without a hearing. yet, within hours -- i think actually, within less than an hour, i believe, of the announcement of justice scalia's passing, the republican leader in the senate pretty much said we're not going to do our jobs. we are not even going to have a hearing on whoever the president of the united states nominates, whoever it is. we're not only not going to have a hearing. he then said later, i'm not even going to meet with that person. imagine that. so that nomination, whoever president obama nominates, that vacancy will occur, will be more than a year for sure if the senate does nothing on its
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confirmation. again the last time there was a vacancy for as long as one year was during the civil war. it was 150 years ago. and that's because there was a civil war and the congress wasn't very functional in those days. members were leaving the court, leaving the senate and house after secession in 1861 and all the other things that happened. we have nearly, we have nearly a year left in president obama's term, about a quarter of the term the american people elected him to serve. that's plenty of time for the senate to carefully consider and review a nominee. president obama, just to make clear that he was not just elected, he was elected decisively. he's only the second democrat, i believe, in american history, certainly the second democrat since the civil war. he's only the second democrat since the civil war to at least twice win a majority of the popular vote. only president obama, who got more than 50% of the vote twice, and president roosevelt who got
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more than 50% of the vote, i believe, four times, are the only democrats in 150 years that have gotten a majority of the vote twice. president clinton was elected twice with a plurality. president wilson was elected twice with a plurality. president obama, president roosevelt. these were decisive wins. this wasn't an accidental win. this wasn't a candidate put into office by a decision of the u.s. supreme court. this was a legitimate election in a decisive win. let's look at some of those nominees. the longest nomination on record was justice brandeis whom i believe was the first jewish american to be appointed to the supreme court. his took 125 days. president obama has more than 300 days left in his term. if we fail to confirm a nominee, if senate republicans fail to do their job they were elected, they were sworn in, they get paid, all of us do, we're just asking them to do their job. but if senate republicans don't do their jobs, two supreme court terms will pass before a new
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justice is appointed. yesterday i spoke with professor peter shane, a law professor, law professor at o.s.u., ohio state's moritz college of law in columbus. professor shane said a vacancy of this unprecedented length on the supreme court -- quote -- "will compromise its ability to perform its proper constitutional function and it will create prolonged uncertainty." i have heard so many republicans in the senate say we do all these things and create uncertainty, uncertainty in the economy, uncertainty in regulation, uncertainty in the consumer bureau, warfare. this is the worst kind of uncertainty, self-inflicted and affects one-third of the government, one of the three branches of government. without full bench, justice could be further delayed for americans who have fought for years to have their decisions heard. split decisions, 4-4, would leave americans in different parts of the country subject to different laws.
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how to prevent that? do your job. thousand prevent that? do your job, to my colleagues in the senate. in the past, senator mcconnell himself has agreed with a normal, deliberative approach for supreme court nominees. he said in 2005, "our job to react to the nomination in a respectful way. to give that person an up-or-down vote as all nominees have gotten through the history of the country." that's what senator mcconnell said a decade ago. now he is saying the senate won't even do our jobs. again, we run for these offices. we get sworn in these offices. we get paid every two weeks. we should be doing our job. i am not saying every republican has to vote for the president's nomg. what we're saying is meet with them, the president will do the nomination, we should begin hearings, meet with these nominees individually. every supreme court nomination, since i have been in the senate -- i have had an hour-long meeting with each nominee -- we
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then make our decisions based on that. not say we're not going to work, we're not going to do our jobs. what, what, what, how would that make sense? the only difference now is we have a different president. time and time again democrats in the senate have given republicans supreme court nominees a fair hearing and the up-or-down vote they deserve. during the seven years the vice president has chaired the judiciary committee, when he was a senator here, he did his job. he oversaw the confirmation of three justices who are nominated by a republican president. in the case of clarence thomas, he even allowed justice thomas to have an up-or-down vote on the senate floor, evening though the committee failed to report his nomination with a favorable recommendation. so what does that mean? that means when clarence thomas was in front of the senate judiciary committee, a majority of members said "no." they didn't want to confirm him. yet they still moved his nomination to the floor. he didn't filibuster. they didn't require 60 votes they just said a majority vote
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wins. thomas won 52-48. nobody blocked him, which they could have easily done. and the senate did its job. the same thing we're asking the senate to do today. both justice thomas and justice alito were confirmed by the senate with neurothan 60 vote -- fewer than 60 votes. they could have blocked him with a filibuster. they didn't. they allowed both of them to come forward, even though lots of opposition, they still allowed hem for an up-or-down voavment yet this time senate republicans are refusing to hold hearings and are in many cases rycasesrefusing to even meet wie nominee. we're just saying, do your job. you were sworn n you ran for these offices. you were sworn in. do your jobs. you get paid to do these jobs. show up for work and do your job. can you imagine how republicans would have reacted with justice nomination? the consistent attempt to
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delegitimize our democratly elected president is politics at its worst. 2013, republicans didn't like the results of the 2012 election, so they shot down the -- shut down the government. three years later they still didn't like the results of the 2012 election. so they are saying, forget the 2012 election. this is all about the 2016 election. no, it is really about the president of the united states elected in 2012, with a majority of votes in an electoral college landslide, elected for a four-year term. not a three years and one month term, a four-year term and american history in spite of what my colleagues like to say with their revisionist history, in spite of what they like to say about revisionist history, the fact is we have done this in the fourth year or the eighth year of many presidents. now they're trai they are tryins they shut down the government in response to the 2012 election -- which they didn't like, about which they didn't like the outcome -- now they're trying to shut down the supreme court process with a year left in this
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president's term. you don't shut whole system down when you don't get your way. it is a dangerous precedent that undermines our democracy. our friends on the other side of the aisle justify this saying we need to let the people make their choice. they d they made their choice in 2012 of selecting a president for a four-year term. this is the fourth year of his term. there is no reason this president shouldn't have the ocialtion right to nominee, to send a name up here. ness no reason that senators shouldn't do our jobs. have hearings, meet with the nominee, bring them to the floor for a vote with a 50-vote threshold, a majority vote, and see what happens. they may vote "no." if so, that's a legitimate exercise. if they're not even willing to go through the process and see what might happen and see what the public judges as the right decision and whether to confirm or not, they're not doing their jobs. i expect this senate -- i expect this senate maybe asking too much when i've seen the
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partisanship and the head-in head-in-the-sand attitude and the fight this president at all cost views of so many on the other sievmentd but i expect this body to put politics aside. give a fair vote to any qualified nominee. that's our job. simply put, we need to do our job. madam president, thank you. i yield the floor. mrs. fischer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: madam president, i rise today to continue my tribute to this current generation of nebraska heroes by remembering those who died defending our freedom in iraq and afghanistan. each of our fallen nebraskans
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has a special story to tell. over the next year and beyond, i will continue to devote time here on the senate floor to remember each of them in a special tribute to their life and to their service to our country. time after time, nebraska's gold star families tell me the same thing: they hope and pray that the supreme sacrifices of their loved ones will always be remembered. today i want to celebrate the life of sergeant jeffrey hansen of cairo, nebraska. he group with the heart of a soldier, enjoyed an all-american childhood, spending time outside hunting, playing football and staying in shape. bora 19393 graduate, attended college at university of carney before graduating in 1997 with a
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bachelor's degree in athletic training. over the years, the urge to serve his country tugged at jeff. he decided to enlist with the nebraska army national guard in january of 2000. a natural leader, he quickly rose through the ranks serving as an assistant squad leader, fire team leader, and squad leader before his last assignment as a fire support sergeant. jeff exhibited outstanding leadership as a member of true bay in the first of the 167th cacavalry of the nebraska army national guard. friends remember jeff as an awesome teacher and amazing mentor. sergeant brad jessen recalls how jeff was very soft-spoken but always had something intelligent to saivmen say. in civilian life, jeff became a carney police officer in 2002
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and he later joined the department of veterans affairs police force in grand island. james aarons, who worked with him as a sergeant in the v.a. police service, said jeff was the strong, silent type. he didn't talk a lot, but when he did, people listened. jeff was also a loving husband. he met his wife jenny at a football game at the university of nebraska in carney. fate brought them together, and they began a natural and a comfortable relationship that blossomed quickly. jenny excelled at golf. jeff would attend her tournaments, cheering her on, as the team progressed to a winning season. and then after the final round of the 2002 ncaa division ii women's golf turnment, jeff came up to jenny and the 18th green where he knelt down and proposed. that same year jeff was promoted
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to sergeant and recognized for outstanding begunry marksmanship. jeff and jny also began discussing their future plans. their talks became more intense when jeff's unit, the first of the 167th cavalry, was called to duty in bosnia. jeff and jenny wasted no time and they were married on october 12, 2002. two days later, jeff left for bosnia. after 11 months, jeff returned home and the two settled down back in cairo, nebraska. a world away, the war in iraq continued. by the fall of 2005, the american public was hopeful that major military operations in the region would be coming to an end. however, the bombing of al
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ascari mosque in february of 2006 ignited a sunni-shia shifl war that plunge -- civil war that plunged iraq deeper into violence. at that time, the american military was operating as a peacekeeping force, but things quickly turned deadly and the coalition found themselves engaged in dramatic wartime operations. jeff's unit arrived in iraq just before the al askari mosque bombing. operating out of alabad air base, his unit was known for their ability to complete security operations in one of the most violent areas of the country. the days were long, and with each mission they faced imminent danger. all the while, jeff kept his head in the game and inspired his battle buddies to do the same. while jeff was gone, jenny
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remained active and she continued to excel on the golf course. she won the nebraska women's state amateur golf championship and qualified for the 2006 u.s. women's amateur open. as she continued to advance, jenny began thinking about playing the sport professionally, so she wrote to jeff asking for his guidance and thoughts on this important new stage when they would share and navigate on their journey together. back in iraq, jeff headed out on patrol where conditions worsened with limited visibility. out of nowhere jeff's humvee hit a sink hole and it flipped, landing upside down in a canal. as this was unfolding, jeff pushed the other soldiers out of the vehicle, all of whom survived the crash. meanwhile, jeff was still in the humvee and critically injured. sergeant brad jessen remained at
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the scene keeping jeff alive until the medical team arrived. jeff was quorum callly flown to germany for emergency care. jenny was at work when the phone rang. there's been an accident, she was told. we need you to come to germany. it seemed like an eternity before jenny was able to reach jeff's side at the hospital in germany. as soon as she arrived, it was clear jeff was not going to make it home. he passed away a few days later with jenny at his side. jenny returned home to nebraska, saying goodbye to jeff one last time. embracing for a life -- and bracing for a life without the man she loved. shortly after the funeral, a
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letter arrived. it was from jeff. and there was a reply to her questions about golf and their future. he had written to tell his wife to pursue her dream. he told her to find the focus and dedication that she yearned for in her life. if there was something she wanted to pursue, he would support her every step of the way. and jenny pursued that dream. she competed for, she earned a spot on the lady's professional golf association tour, and she played in a number of professional tournaments. but as any nebraskan can understand, the good life -- well, it pulled her back. today she's the mother of three beautiful children. she still reads the letter from jeff every once in a while, and yef is with her every day -- and jeff is with her every day in her heart. for his service in iraq, jeff was awarded the iraqi campaign
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medal, the global war on terrorism service medal, and the armed forces reserve medal. he was also posthumously awarded the bronze starks the army good conduct medal and the overseas service ri ribbon. jeff is survived by jenny, i had father robert and brother jeremy. our nation and all nebraskans are forever indebted to his service and sacrifice. sergeant jeffrey hansen is a hero, and i'm honored to tell his story, lest we forget his life and the freedom that he fought to defend. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: madam president, i think we're all very touched and moved by senator fischer's remarks and the thoughts of the entire body go out to sergeant hansen's family, those that he left behind. madam president, i'm here on the floor today with no better news. we all woke up just days ago to the news of another mass shooting, this time in kalamazoo saturday another community was changed forever by gun violence. we live it every day. in connecticut still mourning 20 dead first graders and six teachers who he protected them. in this case the alleged killer used a semiautomatic handgun to
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kill six people and injure at least two others across three incidents between about 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., that saturday night. the shooter first shot a woman several times leaving her seriously wounded. next at a car dealership ep gunned down a father and a son. later he approached two cars parked outside a neighboring cracker barrel restaurant. he opened fire there and he killed four. i've been coming down to the floor now for almost three years telling the stories of victims of gun violence, and i'm going to talk about six today. but unfortunately, the statistics tell us that there are 86 every single day killed by guns, 2,600 a month and 31,000 a year. the vast minority of them are due to mass shootings. most of the individuals on this list are killed by virtue of suicides or by individual acts of violence, domestic violence,
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for instance, violence that happened in the cities of america like hartford and new haven, new york and los angeles. but what's astounding to many of us is that despite these numbers, which as i've made the case before, are unlike those of any other industrialized country, we do absolutely nothing about it. we do nothing about it. we don't pass stronger gun laws. we don't strengthen our mental health system. we don't give more law enforcement resources. all we do is just catalog the numbers of the dead every single day and every single l month. the statistics apparently aren't moving this place. hopefully, my voice is that the voices of these victims, to give you a sense of who these people are and the just trail of tragedy that is left behind them, researchers will tell you that there are often over a dozen people who experience serious levels of trauma in the wake of one person being killed
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by guns. maybe these stories will change people's minds, stories like that of mary joe nigh, 60 years old when killed last weekend in kalamazoo. she was enjoying a night out on the town with a former college roommate. her sister-in-law and her friends when all of their lives were taken by this seemingly random shooting. mary joe was a retired english teacher from calhoun community high school where she dedicated her time and her talents to helping students who were at risk of dropping out. it's not an easy job, but she put her mind to it and she put her heart to it. one colleague commented that -- quote -- "she was an english teacher but she was a lot more than that to the students who don't come from great home lives. a friend said that she was always reaching out to others and helping families. this friend said it just doesn't make sense, mary joe saw helping others as her calling in both her professional and her
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personal life. it's just a tragedy." mary lou met her sister-in-law -- mary lou nigh met her sister-in-law mary joe when they were college roommates. mary joe met a brother and eventually got married. mary lou dedicated her time as a manager of the michigan secretary of state branch in south haven prior to its closing and then she shared her love of children. for the last six to seven years working at a day-care center. a local pastor said she always had a smile on her face, and she was just beloved by the kids that she worked with. "it was never about her. always about making sure that things were right for the children." her son said that his mom loved reading books and doted on her grandson, five-year-old jeffrey.
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she herself was the youngest of five children. her grandson jeffrey won't be able to spend that time with his grandmother any longer. 68-year-old barbara hawthorne was in the back seat of mary joe nigh's car when she was killed. her family said -- quote -- "aunt barb was easy to laugh, a generous, giving person who loved her many family and friends. she was a true hippie who marched for civil rights in the deep south, believed in marching to your own drummer. she loved theater and live music and shared tickets to performances when possible." dorothy brown known as judy to her friends and neighbors was also with mary joe and mary lou and barbara. neighbors remember judy's generous and friendly spirit. she readily shared her homegrown herbs and always took time to share a friendly wave with neighbors. one neighbor who did odd jobs
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for her occasionally helping out around the house always got a gift card from her at the end of the year. she was described by one neighbor as a sweet, sweet old lady. you couldn't ask for a better neighbor. tyler smith was 17 years old, and he was with his father shopping for a car when the shooter drove by and opened up fire, killing both the father and the son. tyler had a very bright future ahead of him. he was enrolled at the marketing entrepreneurship program at the local tech center. in addition to high school, he was according to friends and family studying marketing so he could help open a family business with his father, sister and his cousin. the superintendent who knew tyler well -- and it means something about a kid that the superintendent knew this particular student well. that tells you he was marked for something big. said he was such a great kid, always a smile on his face, always happy and very well liked. his father known as rich was killed alongside while they were shopping for this car, a family remembers rich saying when he
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was in your presence, it automatically put you in a good mood. he had this contagious laugh and he always smiled. a friend said rich was always there to lighten it up and laugh it off. he was such a wonderful man. that's six people of the average of 86 killed every day just in that one episode in kalamazoo. what's so sad is when the shootings in kalamazoo began that saturday evening, a dozen other people had already been killed in multiple victim incidents since the weekend started. set aside all those one-off incidents of gun violence. set aside all the suicides. just last weekend before kalamazoo happened, a dozen other people had been shot across this country in multiple victim incidents. there is no other country in the world that has that level of epidemic mass gun violence. and i'll speak at another time about why that is.
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but what is unexceptional about the united states is that the american public want to do something about it. they don't accept the status quo. just like other countries' public wouldn't accept it either. 92% of americans are in favor of universal background checks. and we can't even get a debate on this proposal on the floor of the senate nor in the house of representatives. democracy normally doesn't allow for 90% of americans to support something that their legislative body won't even consider. 85% of n.r.a. members are in favor of universal background checks. by the way, all that means is that you have to prove that you're not a criminal. you have to prove that you have not been deemed mentally incompetent before you can buy a gun. support for the laws that we want debates on on the floor of the senate, they're absolutely
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bipartisan. here's background checks for gun shows and private sales. that's not universal background checks but just to those through particular forums. for that specific proposals, democrats supported by 88%, republicans by nearly 80%. laws to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns, 81% democrat. 79% republicans. there's no difference. there's a little bit more difference when you come to a federal database to track gun sales but you still have 55% of republicans supporting that. on probably the most controversial reform which, to me, for the life of me, i can't figure out why it's controversial, a ban on assault style weapons. 70% of democrats but a near majority of republicans as welling which tells you the overall american population despite their registration support a ban on assault weapons which wasn't that radical all that long ago when it was passed as law in this country. i won't go into this as detail but again you look at specific
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provisions and the overwhelming majority of the american public support them. bans on semiautomatic weapons, bans on assault weapons, bans on high capacity ammunition clips, again, over and over again you see that the overwhelming majority of americans support these laws. and so, madam president, it's just simply time for us to respond to the voices of 31,000 victims every single year and do something about it. i'm going to continue to come down to the floor and share these stories, share some of these charts, share some of this data in the hope that it will inspire this body to break out of its ice of indifference, as others have coined the phrase before me, and do something. i understand that we're not likely going to get a vote on background checks between now and the end of the year. and there's a big bipartisan mental health reform bill that
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we could debate on the floor before we wrap up for the year, and i would submit to you that that's not the answer for the epidemic of gun violence, but it would help. if you create a more inpatient beds and more outpatient capacity, a lot of the very disturbed individuals who take these demons that exist inside them and turn them into an active massive violence that mental health reform bill could help them. it would be the beginning of the work we have to do but it would be a pretty important beginning. at some point, at some point the united states senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world, an organization that claims to represent the will of the people, we have to start paying attention to the voices of the, of these victims and the overwhelming majority of the american public who want us to honor them. i yield back. and, madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the clerk: senate resolution 374, relating to the death of antonin scalia, associate justice of the supreme court of the united states. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second?
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there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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